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Book Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Dive into the world of mental disorders and asylums with this book

Photo from Flickr For the longest time, one of my best friends kept badgering me to read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. She ranted and raved about how amazing the book is and since it’s a literary classic, I decided to give it a try.

I’m really intrigued by mental asylums and people with mental disorders, so I was excited to dive right in, especially since Kesey spent a lot of time shadowing asylum patients to craft each character 100% accurately. I was prepared to cry, laugh and feel every other emotion she swore I would. After finishing the book, it’s safe to say the only thing I felt was a small amount of sympathy at maybe two parts.

Going into it, I had high hopes for this book. I had heard so many good things about it and I always take advice from my friends with a lot of heart. The beginning was slow, but whenever I start a book I always make myself finish it.

It takes a lot to interest me, so at least getting through the first two chapters is important for me to actually get into a good book. That’s what I expected to happen, but I never ended up getting into it like I should have. It was only halfway through the book that I realized why it was boring me: there’s no apparent plot.

To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what the plot is. McMurphy is there to shake up the hospital, but since it’s narrated by Chief, it confused me a lot. Chief is a half-Native American patient who has vivid hallucinations and believes he is trapped in a corporation called the Combine.

Since he has such deep hallucinations, Kesey uses too many descriptive words to describe everything and it’s a bit much for my taste. It only contributed to my confusion. If you are too descriptive, my mind gets lost.

The simpler the better for me. I appreciate his need to include the descriptive scenes to fully encapsulate how cuckoo Chief is and the symbolism behind his visions, it was just too much in my opinion. Once you get past parts I and II, I admit, it does get better.

Since McMurphy’s goal is to defy the warden, Nurse Ratched, it’s thrilling to see him rebel and go through the series of conflicting emotions he feels. Nurse Ratched has the ward wrapped around her finger and plays into each character’s insecurities in order to maintain power, so to read McMurphy’s outright defiance was riveting. Only towards the end, in Part IV, is when I found the most interest in the novel.

A series of events that you don’t expect play out, resulting in a conflicting ending. Whether it’s happy, sad or both is totally up to your own interpretation. I understand why people rave about this book yet I didn’t feel the same effect.

If I had to rate it, I’d probably give it 3 out of 5 stars, which isn’t bad, but isn’t necessarily good either. It’s definitely a book you are really into or are really bored throughout. Don’t let this review discourage you from reading it if you wanted to; you may have a different experience than I did.

There’s two sides to every story and I just couldn’t find the good side.

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References

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Book Review: The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

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nature_beastBy COLLEEN WALLACE
Martinez Gazette Contributor The Martinez branch of the Contra Costa library has begun hosting a book club on Tuesday nights once a month. It is a very laid-back environment, where each member of the group reads a book and discusses it at the meeting to follow.

The book for September was The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny. The book for October is The Spirit Catches you, and you Fall Down by Anne Fadiman, a non-fiction book about a Hmong child with epilepsy and her parents’ culture clash with her American doctors. If you would like to join the Martinez Library Book Club, pick up a copy of The Spirit Catches you and you Fall Down and join us at the meeting room downstairs in the library on October 25th, from 6-7pm.

Copies of the current book can be obtained by going to the Martinez Library circulation desk and requesting to check out a copy. To follow, is a synopses of the previous book we read. Armand Gamache has just retired as chief inspector of the S?ret? du Qu?bec (where he was head of homicide) to a village called Three Pines, not located on any map.

It was there that he met many vibrant characters, one of which goes by the name Laurent Lepage, a nine year-old boy who has taken on the role of “boy who cried wolf” in the village. But this time, Laurent may have actually stumbled upon something in the woods that, while too large to be believed by many, may get him into more trouble than just annoyed villagers, as one of them may have actually believed him, and taken things a step too far. It’s only when the villagers found that he has disappeared that they realize he may have been telling the truth this time.

But none of them could have expected what was buried in those woods outside Three Pines. What would lie ahead would shake the small village to its core. A tangled web of half-truths and deceit.

As Armand Gamache assists his prot?g? and replacement, Isabelle Lacoste, and his son-in-law, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, another inspector of homicide for the S?ret? du Qu?bec, he realizes that this case is bigger than just finding Laurent. A gripping tale of two scientists and their life’s work, a serial killer with an obsession for the demonic, two CSIS agents who may not be what they seem, and a poet and a grocer who may know more than they are willing to let on. And a play.

A play that has more to say then anyone would have guessed. This novel was a real page-turner, every next event as unexpected as the ending. I would love to go back to the beginning of the Chief Inspector Gamache novels and read them all.

I became so immersed in this work that I felt as though I were actually in the village of Three Pines. Penny achieves her intention of an exciting mystery novel very well. Ms.

Vivian Roubal, another member of the book club, states, “I thought the book was fast paced and a good mystery. It was a story where you didn’t know who the villain was until the very ending.” I wholeheartedly agree. I would have never guessed the villain to be who it was if Armand Gamache had not figured it out with his colleagues.

Though this was the eleventh book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, it is still a good book to read with a group, because, as Roubal put it, “…It was a self-contained story so the previous books didn’t take away from the plot line.” If you would like more information on these books, or the club, head to the Martinez brach of the library. The November meeting is on the Nov.

22 and the book is Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

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References

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